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En route to French Polynesia

First Stop: Bora Bora

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Ladies and Gentlemen, my name is Annik and I will be your chief travel attendant. On behalf of Captain David and the crew, welcome aboard our condensed travel blog, destination: French Polynesia. Our travel time will be 17 days and we will be flying at an altitude of 30,000 feet over ultimate happiness. We will be enjoying first class seating from Boston to Pittsburgh to prepare our buttocks for the long haul to Tahiti, through Los Angeles. Arrival time in Tahiti is about 6am (11am Eastern time), right on time to catch the next flight from Tahiti to Bora Bora. Our layover will be 3 days and will be followed by 12 days on the island of Moorea. Our entertainment for this trip will consist of snorkeling, diving, paddle boarding, ATV tour, jet ski excursion as well as laying on the South Pacific beaches. On the unlikely event of an emergency, there will be no floor-level lighting to guide you towards any exits... Because let's be honest, nobody would ever want to escape what is supposed to be "the most beautiful place on earth". The captain has turned on the Fasten Seat Belt Sign as we are ready for departure. Now sit back, relax and please enjoy your virtual trip with DnA travels. :)

Posted by Rattrays 05:13 Archived in French Polynesia Comments (4)

Bora Bora

Sorry folks, this is going to be a long one... We couldn't tear ourselves from this vacation long enough to get online to write up our travel journal. But here it is.
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After a mere 24hours since we left snow covered New England. We finally arrived at Bora Bora local time: 9:30 am. Few hours sleep here and there in the planes was enough for us to feel revitalized and ready to start our vacation. And the 5 hours time difference you ask? Ha! We laugh in the face of jet lag! We'll sleep on the plane back!! So Bora Bora... Where to start? The island is surrounded by both a dark, deep turquoise and a lighter shade of green. The mountains and lush green of hundreds of different types of trees and plants add to the magic of this South Pacific gem.
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But what makes French Polynesia THE place to vacation is the accommodation. As if all this beauty is not enough, lets just throw a bungalow right on top of the aqua water dancing with fish, and add 2 see-through coffee tables with direct view into the water in the living room.. Oh yeah, and then let's add a huge balcony so people can jump in directly from their room to go snorkel the day away. If this is not paradise, I don't know what is...
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Saturday
Our first day was overcast with small breaks of sun. We explored the very small island where the Hilton is and beached it while the sun was breaking out. On our way to our over water bungalow, we saw a school of 5 small black tip sharks just hanging out in a little stream about 150 feet from our bungalow. Pretty cool we thought...
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But then once on our balcony, a school of not 5, but 9 spotted eagle rays were flying through the water back and forth right around our bungalow!!! If you ask me, we shouldn't call them a "school of rays" - they are way too cool for that -they should be a "rock band of rays" or something along those lines... That was freakin' awesome!!!!
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Around 6:15, We thought we'd have a 20 minute catnap before getting cleaned up for dinner. Yeah, not so much. At about 10pm we woke up and realized we slept right through dinner. Ha! Jet lag sure laughed in our face this time!!
Sunday
Up bright and early at 6am after close to 12 hours of almost totally restful sleep. Bora BoRAIN, vengeful tahitian God of tropical storms must have been ticked that we were sleeping through our first evening in French Polynesia for he called down shattering thunder and stormy winds that got us both slightly spooked. The weather flip-flopped from sunny to rainy all day while the wind was constantly blowing. The water was too choppy to snorkel by our bungalow so we walked to the other side of the resort and took our first gander at what our South Pacific under water friends looked like. Well once again, Bora Bora didn't disappoint. The fish down here are dazzling.
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There are a lot of different types of butterfly and angel fish, every single one more beautiful than the next. And the fun part is that they love following you around and they get right close to you. It's like they call dibs on one of you and follow you around. "I call the Rambo dude", "dibs on the pink lady".
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Monday
Another day of iffy weather: sun/rain/sun/rain but at least the wind had quieted down for our last day in Bora Bora. We finally got to snorkel right from our bungalow. What a fun time. Again, boat loads of fish around the pretty coral around our bungalow. We also got to see where the oh so popular Tahitian black pearls are created: in the belly of beautifully colored oysters. Neither of us had ever seen such artful shells. And because we jus HAD TO, we swam around the little stream were the sharks were hanging out for the past 3 days. And yes, 2 of them swam next to us. The water was quite murky from the rain so it got a little eery very quickly so we made our way back around our bungalow keeping an eye out for the rock band of rays who shied away from the party.
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The skies opened as we were leaving Bora Bora for the airport. I think it was part of the Tahitian's God plan to make sure we wouldn't miss Bora Bora too much on the next leg of our trip in French Polynesia. And it worked. We arrived to beautiful weather in Moorea, a much bigger island than Bora Bora but with the same dazzling beauty.
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Tuesday
OH MY GOD!!! What an amazing day this was!!! We started our stay in Moorea with a jet ski tour. Driving jet skis around this paradisiac island was so much fun. David was proud of his little wifey for being such a trooper and riding through the waves as fast as the more experienced drivers (what a blast!!!) I even got the "that's my girl" comment of approval. Can i get a yeehaw!?!
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Then we stopped to feed the rays and sharks. We snorkeled with DOZENS of black tip sharks and fed, petted and even smooched a few huge rays.
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While David felt a tiny bit intimidated at first, I giggled like a little girl the whole time.
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So cool!! Back at the resort, we went kayaking, snorkeling -where David totally got attacked by a tiny trigger fish... Tried to get a chunk off his leg! That was flippin' hilarious!!- then we finished this amazing day with a tall froufrou drink at the beach bar while watching the sun set on cook's bay.

Posted by Rattrays 11:50 Comments (5)

Moorea

Wednesday
Found something else that makes me giggle like a little girl. Heck it even made David giggle like one too... The view of our new Bungalow. For the first 2 nights of our stay in Moorea, we were in a garden bungalow with our very own small pool on our private balcony. Great, but not quite the same as being on top of the water. We just moved Wednesday in to what's going to be our home for 10 nights.
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We have the furthest bungalow on the resort which means we have unobstructed views of the horizon and fantastic privacy!! No need to pull the curtains...Our day was spent on the beach and paddle boarding. I absolutely loved it but David... Well lets just say the paddle board and him got into a brawl and the paddle board won. Twice.
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Thursday-Friday
How do I love thee, let me count the...... body parts. 2 legs, 2 arms and a head. It's all there, despite having two 8 and 10 feet long sicklefin lemon sharks circling around us five times during our second dive. "We might see a lemon shark if we're lucky" he said "they are very wary, they never get close to divers" he said.... Hummm Master Diver dude, you were wrong. David was beside himself of excitement before the dive. I was just glaring at him with daggers in my eyes. But you know, when you love someone, you do silly stuff. Like going on a shark dive. Both David and I were completely mesmerized by the graceful sharks gliding slowly around us but after a while I started feeling a little uneasy about having them looking at us, licking their chops...
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I'm just glad we still have all our body parts to tell the tale. Especially after reading in our fish book that sicklefin lemon sharks are considered dangerous. Fantastic. But that is done and it was a extraordinary experience. On a lighter note, during our 3 dives, we saw Nemo- the beautiful clown fish living in an anemone. We also swam with 2 turtles, a few giant trigger fish, a unicorn fish, over 20 blacktip sharks and thousands of other colorful fishies.
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Blacktip sharks are usually about 5 feet long and besides being very curious and approaching divers, they are pretty much harmless.
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However, they are still SHARKS so when there are 3 of them waiting by the boat for you to jump in the water or when they come right at you, it's still a bit freaky!! We also caught sight of about 10 dolphins jumping in front of the dive boat. These were 2 incredible days of enjoying the spectacular marine life of Moorea!!!

Posted by Rattrays 00:31 Comments (5)

Fantastic vacation in Moorea!!

This is so silly... 2 of our last 5 days have been spent either snorkeling, paddle boarding, on a paddle boat, roasting under the sun on our private deck or at the beach, or just bopping around in the beautiful aqua water but yet, finding the time to write the travel journal is quasi-impossible. AND we are up every single day between 6-7am??? The meaning of "time flies when you're having fun" never made more sense to us!!
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Saturday, on my bday, after a morning of floating around on our air mattresses and going for a spin on the ol' paddle boat, we rented a scooter to go shopping for my birthday gift. Woah, no judging me people, I told my wonderful husband that being in paradise with him was the most grandiose gift of all but he insisted to go shopping for a ring with a Tahitian pearl. Who am I to refuse my Love's heart's desire?? ;) So we went and we bought. And I look at my ring every chance I get with a smile on my face :)
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After 2 froufrou drinks while watching the sunset on Moorea, we took the evening back to our bungalow where we ordered room service. After all, the best seat in the house is right here on our deck. Not sure why but getting one year older in French Polynesia somehow makes it easier to digest...
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On Sunday other than the usual floating, bobbing and chasing fish, we went to Lilicoy for lunch. It's a mini outside restaurant literally in someone's backyard. The owner is a super sweet French Lady and she grows a lot of her own fruits, veggies and herbs. The food is affordable, delicious and the conversation always pleasant. For dinner, we ventured to the locals' favorite- only open for dinner, only on the weekend. It's more of a take out counter but you can also eat outside, in front of the disheveled little building . For $35 you get enough food to feed 4 people (the picture bellow is our leftovers!!) where in most restaurants in Moorea, $35 barely covers dinner for one.
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The cost in French Polynesia are exorbitant. Especially when you stay in a hotel and have no means of transportation. Dinner for 2 at the Hilton is about $75, without drinks, appetizers or desert. Lunch is about $50 for a couple of burgers and water... Open up your wallet 'cuz it goes up pretty darn fast!! Who wants to go on a vacation and not have at least one tasty exotic drink per day..
So to answer your question Deb, food is inspired by the French culture and tastes lovely but was definitely not a highlight of our trip.
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Monday was the ATV tour. The terrain wasn't challenging enough for my sweet husband who, like any respectable Canadian boy, just wanted to spin it's wheels and fishtail down the trail.
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But the views, oh the views were worth the uneventful ride inside the island. We started by going up belvedere which gave us a breathless view of the islands' mountains as well as the 2 bays giving Moorea it's distinct shape.
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Then we went up magic mountain for a 180 view of the lagoon. Moorea is a pretty small island: 2 hour drive and you made it all the way around. The magic mountain let us admire most of the island from the comfort of our ATV.
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Tuesday was spent as a good relaxing vacation day should be spent: taking in the beauty of the water and the warmth of the sun; then move to our deck and repeat.
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We did have a disappointingly boring snorkeling experience from our bungalow where all fish must have plotted against us to have a good laugh at our desperation to see something grandiose. But it seams a black tip shark got the memo a little too late since I caught a glimpse of him heading out to sea. Can I admit that even if we now swam with black tip sharks 3 times and we all know they are harmless, I almost jumped out of my skin when I saw him swim by. Oh Steven Spielberg, you traumatized so many of us... Forever...
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Aaannnddd finally Wednesday... Again with snorkeling, again with the paddle boat, again with the soaking up every single ray of this French Polynesian sun... Then back on the scooter to go explore the island and shop for souvenirs. I'm slightly ashamed to say I am now the proud owner of not only one, but 4 Tahitian pearls. What can I say? I think the oyster who created my pearl channelled some kind of subliminal message through my ring to say my pearl was feeling lonely. So now with a gorgeous pendant, dangly earrings and a significant hole in my bank account, my pearl found her smile again... Or maybe I'm the one who is smiling? :). David is also sporting a beautiful pearl around his neck too. This is a trip of a lifetime, we just had to invest in worthy souvenirs to go with the memories!!
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Posted by Rattrays 10:27 Comments (1)

Last days in French Polynesia

Thursday... Mom Rattray, you might want to skip over this one and skip over the pictures too. Come to think about it, Deb, you might want to do the same. David learned while researching French Polynesia before our trip that tattoos originated from there. So, of course, he didn't only want to get a tattoo in Moorea, he was also dead set on getting it done the traditional way i.e. with a wild boar's tusk carved into a 5 needle instrument attached to a wood branch - dipped in ink and tapped into his skin with a second piece of wood. And yes, it's sounds as horrific as it looked.
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To add to the terrifying part, the tattoo artist free styled the whole tattoo. So not only was he poking David repeatedly with this home made instrument of torture, we also had NO IDEA what it would look like. Oh and did I mentioned there were cats and dogs coming in and out of the bungalow they use as a kitchen (you read right, this was not even a tattoo studio but more or less their living quarters during a home renovation) and he also started an hour after our appointment because he decided to eat lunch (fish cooked from the mentioned ..........quarters) with his friends before starting.
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That my friends, was an experience!! I was calling upon all the Tahitian Gods to protect David from developing a nasty infection or worse, get a very ugly tattoo on his side (kidding on the worse part). But thankfully, the tattoo turned out great and the healing process has been even easier than a machine tattoo. Phew!!!!
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(Calm down ladies, this man is all mine!!!)
Our scooter ride back was a lot dryer than our ride to the tattoo venture which got us completely drenched and freezing throughout the 25 minute drive. But a pit stop to Chez Fifi had our belly filled and satisfied with 2 huge chocolate crepes. Yum!! Oh man, now I'm craving one!!
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Friday was gorgeous in the morning (beach, snorkel, bungalow...) but our afternoon projects to enjoy more of this dreamy place sank, thanks to a big rainstorm that lasted up until the next morning.
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But we drowned our sorrows in some tasty Tahitian beer and Royal Tahitis while watching the sunset
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and went back to our room to eat some American made Doritos while looking at our vacation pictures. We then ordered room service and were graced by the presence of 2 black tip sharks swimming around our bungalow, and with whom we gladly shared our chicken.
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Yes, sharks do like chicken. Taste just like barracuda... (See Los Roques blog ;) )
And finally Saturday. Last day in French Polynesia. Rain again. One of the ladies at the reception said its because their Tahitian God was crying about our departure. We'd like to believe it was true... We stayed in our bungalow until 11am then moved to the beach until 3pm - in our bathing suit. Rain? Who cares? As long as its not snow, we couldn't care less. We took the ferry to Tahiti to catch our flight to LA. Now sitting here at LAX, we are reflecting back on our vacation. French Polynesia, most beautiful place in the world? Maybe, maybe not... One thing is for sure, it is a South Pacific paradise. Best accommodation we've ever stayed in by far!!
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And the sharks encounters, although a bit (lot) freaky, it was both fascinating and exhilarating. We had a fantastic vacation filled with beauty and adventures. We feel so incredibly blessed to have had such an amazing vacation and going back to reality where we have to wear socks and pants everyday bites the big one!!
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Posted by Rattrays 11:05 Comments (1)

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